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tv   Hardball Weekend  MSNBC  April 8, 2012 7:00am-7:30am EDT

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let's play some "hardball." good evening. i'm michael s plxt irkonish, in new york and in for chris matthews. take all the factors, combine them all and they still won't be as important as the economy and the unemployment rate. the economy created 120,000 jobs last month, well below the last few months and below expectations while unemployment's rate dropped by a tenth of a point to 8.2%. republicans will point to lower than expected jobs numbers, democrats will point to a falling unemployment rate. so who's going to win this fight? we'll break it down at the top of the show. also, mitt romney's people know he has an image problem. they love going negative. and romney blew his chance for a timely jeb endorsement.
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those are just a few of the nuggets from the new e-book and we'll dish campaign gossip with the authors of "inside the circus." is there really a gop war on women? democrats are dining out on that idea, republicans they say it's all nonsense. we'll have that debate. did you ever wonder what it might be like to text with hillary clinton? that fantasy has gone viral and it's in the "sideshow." let me finish with the best thing of all that had this week. we begin with the economy and the presidential race, john heilemann is the national political correspondent for "new york" magazine, david corn is the washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine and author of "showdown." both are msnbc political analysts. as i mentioned today, unemployment rate notched down just a hair in total jobs added, 120,000. although those numbers are headed in the right direction, the jobs numbers fell short of expectations. this morning, president obama expressed cautious optimism. >> we welcome today's news that
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our businesses created another 121,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate ticked down. but it's clear to every american that there will still be ups and downs along the way and that we got a lot more work to do. >> republican reaction to the jobs numbers was far less charitable. presidential candidate mitt romney issued a statement saying this is a weak and very troubling jobs report, house speaker john boehner's statement said family and small businesses are struggling to get by because of president obama's failed economic policies. john heilemann, do we make too much of these numbers? in other words, is there something visceral, a feeling out there amongst the electorate that is more important than whether it's 8.2 as an unemployment rate or 7.4%? >> michael, i think the most important thing is the economy and the most important reflection of the economy is the picture on job growth. and the most important thing about both of those things is the trend.
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if the economy's improving, even just a little bit, people get a sense from the numbers that we're making progress. that's good for president obama, bad for mitt romney. if we're backing up, if the gains of the last couple few months are suddenly heading in the opposite direction, as the numbers today suggested which is to say much below expectations, half of what people had expected and there's a lot of private sector forecasters that think that q3 could be bad, the third quarter of the year, heading into the election, high gas prices almost inevitable this summer, if the trend is in the wrong direction, bad news for president obama and very good news for mitt romney. >> i'll come back to trends in just a moment. we have an interesting analysis to share with you. is it the subjective or the objective that matters most relative to the figures and the economy generally? >> if you're talking about voters, it's the subjective that's most important. it's how people feel. you go back to the '92 campaign and people argue that the recovery -- that the recession,
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the george h.w. bush recession was already over. but people still felt it wasn't. it's really how people feel that's going to dictate the voting in november, not what's actually happen on the ground which his hard to capture with the statistics. we'll have several months of reports between now and november. it's what happens in september, october, that gives people the final sense of where the economy is moving in the right direction or not. that can be determined also don't foreget by external circumstances. the japanese tsunami, the greek financial crisis. there's a lot of stuff outside the president's control that could buffet the economy and thus buffet our political stability. >> what i'm saying is it's hard tore folks at home to follow along some of the time. >> sure. >> you'll hear from one side, the unpemployment rate is high t 8.2% but the other side will say, yes, but we've had 25 straight months of job growth. john heilemann, this is interesting, conventional wisdom
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holds that it's the unemployment rate on election day that determines a u.s. president's fate. it was 7.2% when ronald reagan won re-election, november of 1984. nbc "wall street journal" pollster bill mcinturph says it's a mindset that they take into the november booth. here are three good examples of what he's referring to. in president george h.w. bush's first and only term, the unemployment rate was trending downward a good thing, leading into election day. logic holds that voters would have been willing to give him four more years with the jobs outlook then improving. but in the crucial late spring months that we've highlighted here, the unemployment rate was rising. and according to his theory, it was that impression that voters took to the polls.
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president jimmy carter, the unemployment rate was headed down in the leadup, but in the april, may, june, springtime frame, unemployment was rising. we all know carter lost his re-election bid despite an improving jobs picture. one more. let's look at a trend lien for a president who won a second term. ronald reagan despite a punishing unemployment rate, the top 10% during his first term because it was heading in the right direction, downward, voters gave him four more years. david corn, sounds like an s.a.t. question, i know. does it make sense to you? logic then dictates that right now we're in the time sequence that matters most, not post labor day. >> i take that point. also i think we live in a different world where information is absorbed and chewed up and spit out faster than back in those days. people's impressions are more subject to change. back and forth between now and the election, i do think that the weakness that mitt romney has shown as a candidate is, you know, i'd say strategically
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important. and can overturn a lot of the other trend issues. he has time to find his footing between now and november but if he can't, people still are going to be judging these two men against this backdrop, what they think may or may not be happening with the economy. >> john heilemann, does it make sense to you? he says it's been this way since '52. >> it makes sense to me for kind of an odd reason. i had a conversation with the political director for bill clinton in 1996. he's done a similar type of analysis. he's looked at approval ratings for presidents and found the trend lines and what's happening with the presidential approval in the winner it and spring of an election year matters more than what's happening towards the end of the year. this jibs with that. i'm sure there's some connection, causality or correlation between those two numbers. i think it is true, i think david is right, there's no question that in the media environment we live in now, people absorb things more quickly. but at the same time, people
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are, especially now, thinking hard about the economy for four years of barack obama or 3 1/2 years of barack obama's presidency. i think they have their views about where things are headed right now are being shaped. they are being formed. that's why the white house right now is hammering on mitt romney and paul ryan so hard, because they know that the springtime, leading into the summer where the summer will be quiet. we have the olympics. there's a lot of other things going on in the summer. this is the time where impressions get formed, maybe not decisively but importantly. that's why both sides are trying to frame each other up right now. >> have a good weekend. >> you, too, michael. top advisers know he has an image problem and they love going negative. lots gossip from the republican campaigns. this is "hardball." ifts will ree the earth's gravitational pull and hurtle us all into space.
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it's been a long primary season for republican voters. still standing, mitt romney, an unnatural politician who's run a tight ship of operatives, many of whom love to take down opponents standing in their way. the incredible story of romney, santorum, gingrich, perry and the rest is condensed in an e-book called "inside the circus." with me are the co-arthurs, evan thomas and politico's mike allen. you talk about the image issue that's surrounded the romney campaign and outside romney campaign adviser told you in the book, quote, they haven't been able to grapple with the central issue and central challenge they face as a campaign, that is that in the absence of a candidate who has any poetry, any ability
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to connect on an emotional level, how do you create a bond? if you're a supercharismatic candidate like george w. bush or john mccain they ran without a real bold agenda. they had more emotional level, values level ways to connect with voters. this guy hasn't had it. evan, is it essential that at some point he connect or can voters simply say, look, i can't have a beer with him but i think he can turn the economy around? >> well, as you were saying at the top the show, if the economy tanks and unemployment goes away, he can win by default. i mean, sure. he's got to do better than he's done. he's been a bad politician. he has to find some way to be, i don't like this word, but relatable. some way to relate to voters. they haven't figured it out. you'll see more romney telling his life story and how he's helped people, i'm sure of that. >> mike, on jay leno the other
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night, david gregory was talking about what he thinks really drives romney. he said at his core is his faith and yet he seems reluctant to talk about it. what's been said behind closed doors as to how much he should openly embrace his faith and use it as a means of allowing people to see what's at his core. >> one of the first things we learn when we went behind the scenes of these campaigns to do this series of e-books for random house, they knew from the beginning that mormonism was going to be a tough issue for him. he lives his faith. we know that before a debate, he and mrs. romney will step aside and say a little prayer. but they know that if they get into teaching theology in a campaign, that they're going to be way off their message. so from the beginning they said that -- for people who attacked mormonism they were going to be very tough on them, that they were going to label it bigotry. they were not going to let attacks on mormonism slide.
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they also wouldn't talk about it more than necessary. this is part of the dilemma, they can't really decide how much as one adviser said, to open up the kimono. is he too scripted or not scripted enough? as evan mentioned i think in the coming days we'll see him doing more. we'll see a sort of this is your life for mitt romney. going around the country, showing his life experiences in an effort to get people to relate to him. because in the end we vote for people we like. >> here's another of your revelations, speaking of, i guess i should say "hardball" tactics used to destroy epointens. a senior romney adviser told you, quote, their view is he's dead. wait a minute, let's dig up the basket, open it up. we have more bullets in our gun, let's keep shooting because you never know. they relish going negative. >> his wife had been reading about vampires, you have to dig them up, burn them and scatter
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their ashes. since they don have a winning candidate they have to go negative. they're good at it. they ran effective negative ads that way outspent their opponents and buried them in negative ads. i'm not so sure that will work against obama. look for it. you'll see negative stuff come this fall. >> there are great nuggets s s the book, including this. you report there was no romney research on santorum, just a couple days out from iowa. he completely took them by surprise. >> he took everybody by surprise. i don't think you and i thought that rick santorum would be the republican redeemer. he came out of iowa with a head of steam and the romney campaign had to adopt to that quickly. also with gingrich, they didn't think he wuld ould be the threa was either. so they took their foot off his throat as one adviser said to me, they came out of new hampshire and got beat inning south carolina.
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the night of mitt romney's big win in florida, i said to one of his folks outside the victory speech, are we done with newt gingrich? are you going to be able to let go of him? they said, no, he's been dead before. >> here's another one from "inside the circus." everybody was wondering what was up with rick perry. let's take a look as a refresher. >> we're into those slogans, man. it's like live free or die, victory or death. 20% flat tax, put it on there, take your deductions off, send it in. the good news is that plan that i just shared with you doesn't force the granite state to expand your tax footprint if you know what i mean. like 9% expansion. >> evan, is there an explanation as to that behavior? >> well, i'm not sure. we talked to somebody who before
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the debate was down in the men's room there in hanover new hampshire. perry came through the door singing "i've been working on the railroad." he was still singing -- ♪ i've been working on the railroad ♪ who knows. the story was he had a bad back and was on pain medication as anybody would be. two hours is a long time to stand at the podium. you know, he may have been just -- had a little bit too much pain medication. >> in your book "inside the circus" you portray calista gingrich as being, i don't know if controlling is the right word, how about exhibiting a lot of influence in that campaign and being concerned about the way in which she's represented or depicted. can you speak to that? >> one of the people we talked to, mike and i had dinner with, talked about maintenance, taking care of her. she likes to travel first class, come home on the weekend. one of these key weekends she
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was smelling the cherry blossoms with newt instead of campaigning. the next day she want -- she plays an instrument at one of the cathedrals here. you know, they cater to her. that's not such a bad thing because you've got to help the candidate's wife. but i think as candidate's wife goes she's pretty controlling. >> did she also photo shop or play a role in the photo shopping of her own photographs? >> yes, that was an unusual duty for one of the -- gingrich aides. they said no campaign resources went to it. but there was work done on the photos. and it was a sign of the very candidate-focused control. they told us that all the orders in the ad campaign come from the bus, speaker gingrich calls in on his cell phone and tells them what he wants. we're told that at one point he was even calling in, this is any
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former campaign operative's nightmare, the candidate calling in saying he wanted more yard signs in michigan. one of the people who works for us told us that it was like a think tank with yard signs. somebody had to explain to speaker gingrich we can't get more yard signs. we didn't pay for the last shipment yet. one of the few times we see newt gingrich exploding, we hear him in anger in a meeting with his staff, just a couple weeks ago, and that's the miracle of these e-books, something that happened a couple weeks ago, we could have. we made changes to the last moment. he founded out that he was far in debt. and he was saying this isn't my fault. whose fault is this? that was what he called a halftime meeting. i think the chances that last week are halftime for the gingrich campaign now pretty low. >> the e-book is called "inid t the circus." >> thank you. ever wonder what it would be
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like to text with hillary clinton? stick around for the "side show." you can follow me on twitter if you can figure out how to spell smerconish. you're watching "hardball."
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>> if someone made that call and you would have to believe it would be the right fit. >> do you like mitt romney, and do you support his views? would you feel comfortable on a ticket with him? >> i've never been out on a dinner date with him if that's what you're asking him. i don't know if i would like him. i think we'd have to sit down and discuss things. >> maybe romney should check with john mccain about that whole going rogue thing. here's one that can get women reeling when they head to the dry cleaners. it's more expensive to bring in a blouse than a man's oxford shirt. aren't they the same thing? president obama acknowledged that wrinkle in the gender wars. >> yes, we have a lot more to do. there's no doubt we've made progress. soon insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions like breast cancer or charge women more just because they're women. we haven't gotten on the dry kleining thing yet, though. i know -- [ laughter ]
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that's still frustrating, i'm sure. >> and now for a bit of friday fun, did you ever wonder what it would be like to text with hillary clinton or read what she's texting to other people? that's the focus of a new tumbler account. the idea was hatched when two d.c. communications professionals caught sight of this photo and got creative. take a look. from president obama, hey, hill, what you doing? her response, running the world. then condoleezza rice talking to former president obama, so then i sent her a text saying i think i left my favorite sun glasses in the desk. and from clinton, sorry, condi, haven't seen them. finally, an adaptation from the movie "mean girls" from sarah palin. i'm not a regular mom. i'm a cool mom. right, hillary? the response, please stop talking. that's "hardball" for now. coming up next, "your business" with j.j. ramberg. er.
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